In search of consistency, Sun return home

Connecticut’s Allison Hightower has her shot defended by New York’s Anna Cruz during the first half of Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden. New York won 67-65. The Sun play home tonight against the San Antonio Stars.

New York — It was after a loss in early June when rookie Chiney Ogwumike referred to the WNBA season as a journey for her and her new and young Connecticut Sun teammates. There'd be times where they'd take a few steps forward, such as their six-game winning streak. There'd also be times where they'd take a few steps back, such as back-to-back road losses this weekend.

"It's a challenge," Ogwumike said after Sunday's 67-65 loss at the New York Liberty. "I told you our team was going to be like this."

The effusive Ogwumike then raised one arm up and lowered the other.

"But instead of going like this," she continued, "it'll be like this."

Ogwumike put her arms parallel to one another, suggesting the team will become more even-keeled, and chuckled.

Connecticut plays host to the San Antonio Stars tonight (7, MyTV9) in the first of two home games at Mohegan Sun Arena, and it's almost imperative that it win both given how it continues to struggle on the road.

The Sun (8-8) play home again on Thursday against the Tulsa Shock. Ten of their next 13 games will be on the road.

Connecticut has the WNBA's best home record (7-1). It also has the league's second-worst road record (1-6).

"We came on this road trip ready to focus on being a good road team," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "We've got to have the outside and the inside game going. I don't think it's a product of the road and I don't think that locker room is thinking that."

Better shooting would most certainly help Connecticut, which has the league's second-worst shooting percentage (41.1). It missed eight of its first nine shots in both the second and third quarter of Sunday's loss.

The Sun cut an 11-point deficit with over six minutes left down to a point with 2 minutes, 21 seconds remaining.

Connecticut missed its final four shots and turned it over once.

"We run the ball and we share the ball," Ogwumike said. "That's the key to Connecticut Sun basketball. We had the aggressiveness (Sunday). Obviously, we need to get the ball to go in the basket. That would help. Just a little bit."

Katie Douglas, the lone Sun player over 28 years old, was asked what the winning formula was on the road.

"Defense and rebounding, and for us, it's also running and playing up-tempo," Douglas said. "When we had that six-game winning streak, we were really in that attack mode, really an up-tempo team. ... We thrive, with these youngsters, in the open court looking for one another. Penetrate, pass and kick. Just playing easy and simple basketball."

San Antonio (8-8) has won four straight road games and presents a more odd matchup than most teams. It doesn't have much of an interior presence, but it's loaded with outside shooters and a deep bench. It tops the league in both bench points (31) and 3-point shooting (39.1-percent).

The Stars trailed Atlanta by 14 points with 3:37 left in last Thursday's game. They lost 81-79 as they closed with a 16-4 run, highlighted by three Shameka Christon 3-pointers and another by Becky Hammon.

Speedy guard Danielle Robinson has averaged 13.9 points, 5.6 assists and two steals for San Antonio while forward Danielle Adams and rookie wing Kayla McBride each average 10.4 points. Guard Jia Perkins, the team's second-leading scorer, is out with a strained right hamstring that she injured during the Atlanta loss.

n.griffen@theday.com

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